Giving Thanks

sweet potatoes

 Thanksgiving around the corner

Recently I asked ladies to send me their comments to Coffee at LuLu’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CoffeeAtLulus about what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving Season.   I received lots of great comments and all resonating the same theme…thankfulness for both God and family.   As we take a moment to reflect on giving thanks this holiday season, I thought I would post this special sweet potato pumpkin cups recipe for you to create as a compliment to your turkey, dressings and pies!   It takes no time at all to pull together with a beautiful table setting showcasing one creative element that shouts “You’re Special” Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cups Ingredients:  small pumpkins with insides scooped and cleaned, 3 cups fresh sweet potatoes mashed, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 1/4 cup orange juice, 3 tbsp. butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, 2 tsp. cinnamon, pinch of salt.

Pecan Topping: 1 cup chopped pecans,3 tbs. butter,1/3 cup brown sugar,1/3 cup light corn syrup.

For the pumpkins:

Mash sweet potatoes along with rest of ingredients, fill pumpkins with sweet potato mixture and transfer to baking sheet.  Bake at 375 until tops brown about 45 minutes.

For the topping, toast pecans in a pan on medium heat and gently add butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.

When pumpkins are ready, top with pecan mixture, place pumpkins in a pretty dish or bowl and enjoy!

Top 10 Kitchen

My work space...cutting board, knives, oils, sauces, spoons, cookbook holder

My work space…cutting board, knives, oils, sauces, spoons, cookbook holder

With Thanksgiving upon us, now is the time to get your kitchen organized.

SpicesI sincerely believe you can achieve this with a well equipped kitchen.  It will cut time on meal preparation AND FRUSTRATION!  Who wants to spend 15 minutes looking for a knife?  Or 30 minutes running to the store for a simple spice?

Step 1)  One of the key things you can do is create a  “work center” with knives, utensils, spoons, pans, bowls within easy reach.  My work center has everything within hands reach.  My cutting board, oils and spices are to the left of my stove as well as my pots and pans being stored in drawers to the right of the stove. I like to display my bowls on a accent table, because it not only looks pretty decoratively but also makes the bowl easy to find.

Step 2) Stock the kitchen with staples such as spices, oils, soup stock, canned tomatoes, and a few other key ingredients for a well seasoned meal.  I know a lot of people enjoy using their crock pots but it isn’t on my list, simply because I am trying to inspire you to create something special with your hands. Much like working on a beautiful painting…it doesn’t paint itself!pots

Whether you are cooking for two, your family or hosting a party…these ten items will SAVE TIME in the kitchen but also make the art of cooking more enjoyable.

My Top 10 Kitchen Items:

1) Solid Wood Cutting Board

2) Cooking Knives (parer, chefs, carver, utility, and kitchen shears)

3) Clear mixing/cooking bowls

4) Serving Bowls and Plates

5) Cooking Utensils (Wooden Spoons/Measuring Spoons/Whisk)

6) Pots (1 large soup pot, small and large frying pans)

7) Quick On Hand staple Spices (sea salt, cracked pepper, coriander, cumin, hot pepper flakes, ginger at the least.)

8) Flavoring items such as Onions, Garlic, Fresh Herbs, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, feta cheese

9) Sauces and Oils (Olive Oil, Vinegars, Soy Sauce, Terriyaki Sauce, no salt butter)

10) Set of good potholders

bowls

Serving Fall on a Plate

pollo guisado 5Pollo Guisado or Spanish Chicken Stew

Who doesn’t think of savory stews, hearty soups and harvest vegetables when the air cools and leaves begin to fall (well not in Florida, but I can dream).  Fall is upon us and this fantastic chicken stew really put me right into the mood.  So much so, I dug out

Boots match the stew

Boots match the stew

my suede amber colored boots (matches the stew) and declared “It’s Fall.”

Maria

My friend Maria

It was around lunchtime when I ran into my friend Maria in the lobby of our church.  I have been after her for months to send me one of her incredibly rich recipes to share with you and I finally got it!  As we talked about this beautiful Pollo Guisado, our mouths were watering.  We shared a good laugh just thinking about how hungry we were for this stew!

All I can say is that Maria knows how to cook, so you are in for a treat.  It is not unusual for Maria to host a party with great food each week.  With a huge heart for the Lord, you can see why so many love her.  Not only can she make anything taste great, but she is a beautiful friend inside and out.  Try her magnificent chicken stew…Keep it coming Maria…you are a gem!

Ingredients: 8 chicken thighs (with skin),1 bottle of Adobo, 1 teas.Garlic Powder, 1 Package Sazon (found in the ethnic section of any grocer), 1 8oz. can tomato sauce, 10-15 green Spanish olives, 2 cans chickpeas, ½ cup water,½ cup Sofrito (found in the freezer section at the grocer), ½ pound potatoes (quartered), 1 cup of brown or white rice.

Step One…Coat and sauté the 8 chicken thighs in garlic powder and Sazon in olive oil in a stew pot until brown.  pollo guisado 2Step Two…Add tomato sauce, olives, chickpeas, water, Sofrito and potatoes all at once and let cook for 2 hours.  Pour over rice, garnish and serve on a large serving plate.  Delicious and easy!

Welcome Valley Breakfast

welcome valley

Welcome Valley Village Cabins
Benton, Tennessee

Welcome Valley…

Recently, my family and I needed a change of scenery.  This cabin in the Tennessee mountains was just the place for a little relaxation.  We arrived at night, and as we made our way up the dimly lit hill, we came upon this charmer. I couldn’t wait to see what was on the other side of that door. welcome sign The cabin did not disappoint and had all the rustic charm and warmth as you would imagine from the outside view.

Me and my sweetie enjoying a selfie!

Me and my sweetie enjoying a selfie!

One of my favorite things to do, once we unload and check out the landscape, is cook!  Before we got on the road for this trip, I made up a quick batch of chunky chili  to enjoy once we got to the cabin.

Who hasn’t forgotten a thing or two when traveling?  It’s usually my shower cap but this time it was butter.  I didn’t realize it until I decided to cook this quick yet satisfying breakfast for my family the next morning.  The saga continues below…enjoy!

sausage  My plan was to make a simple fried eggs and sausage with toast. I quickly realized I forgot both butter and olive oil, as well as bread.

maple sausageI did, however, have some fresh sage on hand (in my bag of spices and herbs) and decided to smoke the sausage in sage; turning the heat up on this little stove to very high.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let steam and brown.

country eggsNext the eggs…since I didn’t have butter or oil to cook them in, I decided to cut up some cherry tomatoes and let the juice settle in the pan, I then added an egg with a tablespoon of water and cooked the egg sunny side up.  The juice from the tomatoes and water was enough to add a little flavor and keep it moist.

chiliI served the eggs sunny side up, with the chili I cooked ahead and tomato topping complemented by sage sausage links and grapes.  WE toasted a couple of hot dog buns for toast!!

Awesome…and delicious and I had fun improvising…

REPURPOSE and Carve out Creativity

desk creativity 2How do we find time to carve out space just for creativity? It only takes about 15 minutes to find the space, move what you have (desk or table) and add painting, photos, decorative elements from around the house to REPURPOSE. desk creativity

Warm quiet space for catching up on finances, studying, or writing…this desk sits in my living room inviting me to sit and create anytime of the day. Create space in your home for quiet moments like this.

Watch how I transform this desk and chair by painting and distressing it in upcoming LuLu posts!  I’m thinking a rustic look…what do you think?

For the Love of Classics

vintage 1When I think of settling in at home at the end of a long day, it always includes a party with plush pillows, warm lighting, and my classic movie collection.  I began to fall in love with the classics after a friend recommended the movie called “Separate Tables” with Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster, Debra Kerr and David Niven.  I knew after I had watched it at least 2 times on the same day, I was hooked!

Classic movies create a sense of mystery, drama and glamour; but I suppose what grabs my heart is the simplistic story telling mixed with elaborate settings which pull me right into the experience.  A richness of intrigue, style, and grace.   Whether it is the “drama” in the foreshadowing or the mystery behind black and white film.  Whatever intrigues of the genre interest you, the harkening back to a bygone time is enough to disconnect me from my present troubles and join the characters in their masquerade.vintage 3

I watched an interview recently with who I would consider one of the greatest actresses of our time, Bette Davis.  I was mesmerized by her love for the movie industry.   With a deep respect for her work ethic, she powerfully communicated how she wanted to be remembered… as a hard worker. Wow!  That’s the accolade of a true professional.  Her films deliver strong performances with a lasting presence time after time.

I could go on and talk about the many films I love like, Harvey with Jimmy Stewart, and the Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Gene Tierney, but perhaps you might pick one up, make a pot of coffee for friends and indulge in one of the many wonderful classic movies available.

Enjoy the ageless appeal!

vintage 2

My top five favorites:

1) Separate Tables…Rita Hayworth and Burt Lancaster

2) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir…Rex Harrision and Gene Tierney

3) Harvey…Jimmy Stewart

4) The Bishop’s Wife…Carey Grant and Loretta Young

5) Mr. Skeffington…Betty Davis and Claude Raines

It Is Well Breakfast Fajita

bfajita 3As I awoke this morning, I could feel the ever present nudge to read.  So I read Psalm 21; a psalm of victory and blessed assurance.  As I talk with people from all walks of life, the unison cry of their hearts is the need for assurance in these uncertain times.  The satisfaction in knowing we are cared for and all is well.

As I read deeper, the impact of the words in Psalm 21 resonated with me enough to give me a little push to get my day started.  As I thought about it, I endeavored to carry the effects of God’s word with me; nourishment for my spirit and soul.  Now I would need to find something to nourish the body.

A few weeks ago, I visited a new and “California Kitcheny” café in the area and had the most inspiring scrambled egg fajita.  The infusion of flavors with a wonderful pepper jack cheese incorporation, made an impression on me.  Presented with a  hot robust cup of coffee to complement.  As the morning progressed with great conversation and delicious breakfast , not only was my soul nourished, but I was undeniably satisfied.  Now I could face the day!

On this particular morning the memory of that breakfast fajita came back, so  I decided to make my own version.

Here it is ……be inspired, refreshed and assured on your journey today…it is well.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of sweet vadalia onion, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup of fat free milk (whole is okay) 2 sweet mini red peppers, 1/2 chopped ham, 1/2 cup of swiss, cheddar or pepper jack cheese, fresh basil for topping, 2 tbls. butter, salt, pepper, chipotle sauce

bfajita 5

Ingredients: 1/2 cup of sweet vadalia onion, 3 eggs, 2 sweet mini red peppers, 1/2 chopped ham, 1/2 cup of swiss, cheddar or pepper jack cheese, fresh basil for topping

bfajita 6

Saute all ingredients in butter with the exception of the eggs and milk, until softened.

bfajita 4

Whip eggs and milk together and pour into vegetable mixture until thick. Begin to scramble, pulling egg gently away from sides of pan. Salt and Pepper to taste.

bfajita 2

Place egg mixture in the middle of fajita shell (heated for 30 seconds in microwave)

bfajita 1

Roll fajita shell, top with chipotle sauce and add strawberries to plate!